Altered State Cosplay Interview

Brent Hickey AKA Altered State Cosplay is a Canadian cosplayer from Niagara Falls, ON. He has over 8 years experience in the theater industry, and currently works in the props department as a buyer for a local theater company. In his off time, he enjoys movies, cartoons, cosplay, conventions and going to concerts.

Photo taken by Robyn Iwaskiw Photography

J: Let’s start off with something easy, What got you into cosplay? And how long have you been doing it?

ASC: Dressing up was always something my sisters and I did for fun when we were kids, we actually had our own “tickle trunk” like Mr. Dress up. Needless to say, because of that Halloween was always very big in our family, and my mom has always been a wizard with a sewing machine, so our costumes were always magnificent. Then when I went to my first comic con back in 2011, I saw how many people were dressed up, and I knew right away that I wanted to make a costume for the next convention I went to.

I officially started cosplaying 7 years ago at Fan Expo 2012.

J: How many different cosplays do you have?

ASC: I’ve gotta be approaching almost 2 dozen costumes, both big and small at this point.

J: Why did you start to cosplay, What does Cosplay mean to you and What has kept you doing it for so long? Is cosplay a hobby you could see yourself continuing to do in 10 years from now?

ASC: I’ve always loved dressing up and pretending I’m someone else.

I love building and creating things with my hands, whether it’s with LEGO or building a table out of wood, and cosplay gave me the opportunity to combine both my artistic and practical building skills.

The drive and challenge of creating something cool has kept me going, and I think it’ll keep me going well into my old age.

J: Do you have a dream cosplay or bucket list of cosplays?

ASC: What a loaded question, wow, I have so many. But I think the one that stands out, is CLU from Tron: Legacy. It was the first cosplay I ever attempted to build from scratch, and it was a complete disaster, and I didn’t end up wearing it. I’d love to return to it at some point and try again.

J: What is your fav cosplay to date or cosplay genre and why?

ASC: I think my favorite costume I’ve done so far is Ronan the Accuser. I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy 4 times in theater, and just loved his character design.

I tend to gravitate towards villain characters. The villain tends to be more interesting than the hero, and their costumes are usually pretty badass.

J: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a cosplayer or even as a male cosplayer in a mainly female predominant industry?

ASC: I’d have to say time management is the biggest challenge for me. That deadline that’s ever approaching, even if you start building your costume months in advance, it never seems to be enough time.

I don’t think I’ve encountered any obstacles as a male within the industry, but that being said, my goal isn’t to become “cos-famous” and become part of the industry side of cosplay.

J: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement, you would give to someone who is just starting out or thinking about cosplaying?

ASC: If you’ve never built anything, never be afraid to fail in your first attempt, or your 100th. You learn far more from your mistakes and failures than you ever will from your successes. Don’t be afraid to try new building techniques, and always cosplay as a character you love.

Photo taken by Robyn Iwaskiw Photography

J: What accomplishment or project(costume) are you most proud of and why?

ASC: I always have to go back to my Ronan the Accuser costume. I built it during a major health crisis that went on for an entire year. Since I couldn’t work or really do anything active, I was able to keep my mind busy by building this costume when I was healed enough to sit up straight. I entered into the Fan Expo Masquerade the next year, and won Best in Show!

J: What is your favorite con and what con is your dream con that you hope to one day attend if you haven’t already?

ASC: I’m a big fan of Anime North. It’s very chill, and super welcoming for cosplayers of all types.

I’d love to check out San Diego Comic Con because of the glitz of it, all the big announcements and celebrities seem to be there. I’d also like to check out New York Comic Con for the sheer epic size of it.

J: Who are you favorite cosplayers, Or cosplayers that have been an inspiration to you and why?

ASC: I love Kamui Cosplay and Maul Cosplay. Not only are they very talented at what they do, they both seem like pretty genuine people that are out to make the cosplay community better by sharing their knowledge and positivity. It’s something I’ve tried to emulate myself to the best of my ability.

J: Do you have any Cosplay pet peeves, If so what are they and why do they get under your skin?

ASC: Oh man, where do I begin? I’ll keep it short by going to the one thing that is probably the biggest problem within the cosplay community, and that’s the toxic drama. People putting others down for no reason. Cosplay is supposed to be about fun, and it doesn’t matter if someone made their costume out of cardboard and plastic bags, or if it was created in a lab. If that person is proud of their creation and had fun wearing it, why does someone have to bring them down?

J: How do you decide or choose a character, what is your process on starting a cosplay to finishing?

ASC: 9 times out of 10 I choose a villain that I love.

I usually figure out what the most difficult part of the costume is to build, and if I can manage to build that part, then I know I can build the rest.

Photo taken by Marc Daniel Photography

J: What are your thoughts on paid and unpaid photo shoots? Do you prefer on location shoots or in a controlled studio?

ASC: They both have their merits. In my experience, paid shoots tend to be more structured and time sensitive, because odds are, there’s another cosplayer shooting with that photographer right after you. Unpaid shoots I’ve done are usually more casual, more willing to experiment and try different things cause the only time limit is based on you and the photographer’s personal schedule.

In both cases, I prefer location shooting over the studio because usually a location is chosen that suits the character you’re dressed as, which makes for a much better end result in my opinion.

J: There’s so much drama that surrounds the community. What are your thoughts, do you think it’s always been that way or is there more drama now with geek culture becoming so mainstream?

ASC: I think that’s a burning question in a lot of minds within the community. I don’t think there’s a real answer why, other than it’s in human nature. I’d say there’s always been some level of drama, but it does seem like there’s more these days because there’s more people openly enjoying geek culture than ever before. Ultimately I’ve found it doesn’t seem to matter what community you go into, whether it’s cosplay or football, there’s always drama stirred up by some or all of its members. I’ve always tried to stay away from the drama, and the people that cause it the best I can, it just puts a hamper on the best parts of the community and my enjoyment of it.

J: So what is next for you? Tell me your secrets.

ASC: To continue building on my skills, and friendships that cosplay has afforded me. I do think my days of entering competitions is approaching an end, there’s so many other costumes I want to make, and my big build competition costumes take so much time and effort, it leaves me with little time to make smaller costumes. When I have the time, my goal is to start building and selling props via commissions or on Etsy in the future, but only time will tell.

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Photo's below taken by Robyn Iwaskiw Photography , Marc Daniel Photography, DROO Photography, Otis Casey Photography , Cosplayers Canada